In a northeast corner of Wilson Lake off to the side of the bunched-up campers Saturday, a group of family and friends had their lawn chairs formed in a semicircle.
The group met for the Labor Day weekend at the lake for relaxation and enjoyment. It was the first time most of them had been to Wilson Lake, as many of them came from the Wichita area along with Alan and Bette Wacker, Hoisington.
The Wackers, along with their son, Jason, who was with his wife Mecca and son Teagan, came to the lake often years ago. The family thought it would be a good way for the group of nine adults and three children to get together for the extended holiday weekend.
“With the extra day off, it’s just nice to get away from work and everything,” Erika Anderson said while sitting with the group as her husband was approximately 20 yards away cutting wood with a chainsaw. “It’s just nice to unplug for a while.”
On the south end of the lake in the marina, retired Great Bend Police Chief Dean Akings wore knee pads as he worked to scrub part of the deck of his Gibson houseboat he and his wife Lily bought four years ago as an early retirement gift.
Akings retired about a year-and-a-half ago after 36 years on the force, and Lily worked for the Barton County Health Department for 37 years. He was preparing the boat for a family reunion, while Lily was gone to get supplies. With the sliding door of the boat open, the couple’s dog, Mollie, an 8-month-old labrador they’ve had for three weeks, sat comfortably just inside the door, peeking her head out. It was Mollie’s first time on the boat.
“Life is beautiful,” Akings said looking across the water on the marina deck. “It’s a great day. I think (the lake area) will probably be expecting a record crowd this weekend.”
The Akings were expecting a reunion of approximately 19 Sunday, most of them from the Kansas City area, including their son and daughter who live in Lenexa.
“Most of (the family) will go back to Kansas City on Sunday, but we’ll still be here Monday,” Akings said. “That’s really the last day of the season. That’s really kind of weird because that’s when the weather gets to be perfect, right after that.”
With the temperature in the 70s, the sky overcast and a breeze blowing through, cars, trucks pulling boats, motorhomes and other vehicles were pulling into the lake area throughout Saturday morning.
The weekend gave families such as the Wackers a fun time to remember a place they had spent weekends at when Josh was younger.
In a year with more rainfall than the area has had in quite some time, the Wackers could remember the floods of 1993, and they were at the lake at one point when the water was rising.
“We were here, and there was a point when the lake raised something like 8 feet in 24 hours,” Bette Wacker said. “(Park officials) ran us all out of here.”
Josh Wacker said the lake and park area really hasn’t changed much from how he remembers it. There is one difference he notices, though.
“We used to come here a lot when we were younger,” he said. “There were a lot more trees in here then. I think a lot of that changed with those floods in ’93.”
Correction: The original version of this story misidentified a member of the Wacker family. Teagan is the son of Jason and Mecca Wacker. The HDN apologizes for the error.